Świdnica visitors brochures
Świdnica (Schweidnitz until 1945) is located in the south-west of Poland, in the Lower Silesia Voivodship, and borders directly with Czech Republic and Germany. It is a town of 22 sq. km, has a population of 60 thousand citizens and is located 53 km from Wrocław - the capital city of the region - as well as close to major towns in the Voivodship including: Wałbrzych (20 km), Jelenia Góra (63 km), Legnica (58 km), Dzierżoniów (18 km). Świdnica is a town with over 800 years of history whose community has been shaped by people from different nations - and as a result representing different cultures, religions and customs. It is being recognized as one of the most valuable towns in the Lower Silesia. The list of monuments includes over 1000 elements, with the Church of Peace entered in 2001 into the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List as the biggest European temple of a wooden frame construction. Huge amount and rank of cultural events (particularly musical) enabled Świdnica to bear a name of significant cultural - entertainment centre. Thanks to a tremendous activity of local government Świdnica has a strong economy, based on the town's ancient merchants' tradition, the strength of native enterprises and new investments of companies from Europe, the USA and Japan. Świdnica is an investor - friendly town and its modern monitoring system makes it also a safe town for citizens and tourists. Świdnica is today a strong administrative - economical centre of the sub-Sudety region based on the industry, tourism and trading traditions. HISTORY Profitable natural conditions and suitable location caused that the vicinity of Świdnica was settled as early as in the Neolithic period (4500-1800 B.C.) In the early Middle Ages the region in question was inhabited by Slavic tribe (Ślężanie). In approximately 990 the Silesia was occupied by Mieszko I and annexed to Poland. For the first time Świdnica was referred to as a town (civitas) in a document of 1267. The location document is unknown; nevertheless it is assumed that Schweidnitz became a town in approximately 1250. In this period it belonged to the Duchy of Breslau (Wrocław since 1945). Duke Henryk IV of Wrocław, referred to as Probus, bestowed two privileges on the town as a result of which violent development had taken place. It was the right-of-shrott (1278) as well as the right-of-mile (1285). After childless death of Henryk IV, Schweidnitz alongside with a part of the Duchy of Breslau was vested in Bolko I Surowy in 1290 who raised Schweidnitz to the rank of duchy's capital and became the protoplast of the Piast dynasty of Schweidnitz. At the very beginning of the 14th century the town was equipped with battlements including six gates, parish church and two monasteries. In 1285 in Schweidnitz there operated the guild of bakers, weavers, potters, shoemakers, furriers and tailors. In 1308, seven years after the death of his father, the reins were taken up by the oldest son of Bolko I - Bernard. Due to the fact that he had two brothers he was forced to divide the duchy into three parts. He partially reunited the lands which were increased by his son Bolko II Mały (1326-1368). At the end of his life he was the most powerful of Silesian dukes; the lands of Schweidnitz-Jawor Duchy were spread from Dzierżoniów and Niemcza reaching Łużyce. In 1353 Bolko II entered into succession arrangement with the Czech king Karol Luksemburg as a result of which the Schweidnitz-Jawor Duchy, after the death of duchess Agnieszka - the widow after Bolko II - was annexed to the Czech Kingdom. During almost 100-year-reign of the Piast Dynasty Schweidnitz experienced a constant bloom. Schweidnitz was famous for an excellent beer, clothes and knives production. The town was governed by town council, managed by the mayor. However, not always everything was managed successfully - the life course was disturbed by huge disasters (in the fire of 1313 the entire town, excluding two churches, was supposed to burn down) as well as civil unrests and wars. In spite of all disasters mentioned above the town developed and increased its significance. At the end of the 14th century the number of citizens amounted to 6 thousand.
Welcome to Świdnica
Church of Peace
Church of Peace interior
ŚWIDNICA CATHEDRAL The Cathedral of St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslaus is a Gothic cathedral with the highest tower in the Silesia region and the fifth in Poland in terms of height. The Baroque interior originated at the turn of the 17th and 18th century. The most significant decorative elements are: the altar of the Falling Asleep of the BVM in the form of pentaptic of 1492, the Choir of the Marian Brotherhood referred to as the Choir of Townspeople of 1468, having rich late Gothic ornaments as well as high altar of 1694 which is based on the altar of Paris church Val De Grace. The foundation stone was probably laid by Duke of Schweidnitz Bolko II Mały in 1330. In 1353 the presbytery was finished and in 1385 the main nave. Simultaneously the church was surrounded by chapels founded by various guilds and the wealthiest townspeople. Since the very beginning of the 15th century the erection of towers took place. Initially two towers were planned to be erected; only the south tower was erected which was completed in 1525. In 1532 a great fire broke out as a result of which roofs and ecclesiastical equipment were consumed, not to mention the fact that the tower, roof of the main nave and facade collapsed. The new roof was built in 1535. Thirty years later the tower that was reconstructed was covered with copper sheet helmet. It reached 103 m. In 1644 the Jesuits took charge of the church. They proceeded to reform the Baroque interior simultaneously liquidating former Gothic ecclesiastical equipment. The prevailing part of the interior decoration is ascribed to Jan Riedel. His masterpiece is the high altar completed in 1694. The side altars are produced by Jan Riedel and his cooperators. Another remarkable author, whose works embellish the interior of cathedral, was Jerzy Leonard Weber from Schweidnitz who produced two groups of sculptures: the so-called divine orchestra embellishing set of organs and statutes of the patron saints of Schweidnitz which are located on consoles of partition naves. Apart from Baroque elements the church interior is embellished with relics of the former decor. The most precious Gothic monument is undoubtedly the Marian Altar located in the elevated chapel, referred to as the Choir of Townspeople. It originated at the end of 15th century specific features of which indicate that there are certain connections with the workshop of Wit Stwosz. The earlier is the wooden Pieta originated probably at the very beginning of the 15th century.
OLD TOWNTOWN HALL, MARKET SQUARE AND OLD TOWN When sightseeing Świdnica it is of prime significance to visit the Market Square alongside with renovated historical buildings and decorative illumination due to which Schweidnitz became The Best Illuminated Municipality of 2002 and in 2004 won the prestige international illumination competition organized by Philips, not to mention the fact that in 2009 it won the first prize in all-Polish competition in terms of festive and occasional illumination. Both during the day and night what is worth sightseeing is undoubtedly old town in which there can be found numerous pearls of architecture. TOWN HALL As early as in 1291 the first mention of the merchant house located in the centre of the Market Square appeared. In 1330 there could be found the wine cellar as well as brick stalls of drapers and shoemakers. Six years later the Town Council that holds sittings in the merchant house decides to change its seat and to move to the first floor, as a result of which it can be assumed that the building was at least two-storeyed. Town hall as well as town hall tower were regarded as the symbols of town's independence. Some researchers claim that the tower was erected as early as in 1377 on the occasion of repurchasing the village-mayor office by the town; nevertheless the latest researches referring to foundations of the tower allow to believe that the tower is approximately 100 years older than it was presumed up till now. Nevertheless, it is certain that during the great fire in 1393 the tower was nearly completely devastated. It was renovated as early as in 1450. In 1528 the subsequent fire destroyed the tower thoroughly. It was renovated slightly faster than previously, namely after 20 years and after further 7 years the church clock was installed. The tower survived the difficult period of the Thirty Years' War. It was as early as in 1716 that the great fire ruined the tower again. The renovation was conducted at a record-breaking rate as the new tower (alongside with church bells and clock) was erected at the end of next year. Other devastations were caused by the Seven Years' War. In 1757, when the Austrians bombarded the town, the well aimed shot destroyed the tower up to the height of the clock. The renovation conducted 7 years later was based on the tower of parish church. In such condition the tower survived 202 years. On the 5th January 1967 the demolition works close to the tower resulted in the violation of construction and at 3.16 pm the tower collapsed. Since the very beginning the town hall building was subject to numerous reconstructions. Some of them arose from devastations as a result of fires and some of them arose from the necessity of adjusting the building to the function performed. The best example of the above-mentioned issues is the history of the councillors' chamber. The councillors' chamber is the only room of the town hall which maintained elements of original decor, and specifically the Gothic hall with a plan similar to that of a square. It is covered with double-span cross and rib vault. Its interior was embellished with religious paintings, partially maintained. In 1663 the chamber in question was transformed into chapel; the Baroque oriel annexed to north wall of the town hall originated in this period. The entrance to the chamber is embellished with stone portal which is typical for the 15th century architecture. The fireplace adjacent to the entrance is framed with the renaissance portal with the date 1597 sculptured in lintel. The entrance to the town hall is embellished with the portal that was made by Jan Krzysztof Hampel in 1720 of yellow sandstone, during the renovation of the town hall after the great fire that broke out in Schweidnitz in 1716. Richly sculptured entrance opening is framed with two columns with Corinthian heads which serve as the support for the first floor balcony. The stone balustrade of the balcony is embellished with cartouche with four-field crest of Schweidnitz. The wooden double door maintained the original carved decor. The transom window is separated with decorative iron grate. Nowadays there can be found unique and the only one in the entire world the Museum of Old Commerce with inimitable collection of measures, scales and weights as well as elements of merchants' stalls, not to mention the arrangement of a colonial shop from the turn of 19th and 20th century. The museum in question reflects the merchants' traditions of the town.
Holy Trinity Column
STRZEGOMSKA GATE BASTILE AND FORMER SAINT BARBARA'S CHURCHThis place determined the town's area. At the beginning of the 16th century Saint Barbara's Church was built. There are two bas-reliefs of Saint Barbara and Saint Katarzyna of that period which can be found by the entrance; in the chancel there can be found renaissance wall paintings of floral coverage. In the 19th century the arsenal was arranged there. Nowadays, there can be found the seat of the General Technical Organization. PENTECOSTAL PARISH In the 13th century there stood a ducal castle, reconstructed several times the elements of which were partially preserved (portal of 1537 with renaissance ornamentation). Nowadays there is a seat of the Main Pentecostal Church. ST. JOSEPH'S CHURCH The St. Joseph's Church is a one-naved church with rococo elevation and decoration. Above the portal there could be found the figures of the saints (Augustine, Joseph and Ursula) and in the middle there can be found the lodge of monastic sisters from the 18th century. The building of Ursuline church was started in 1754 in accordance with the project of Wacław Mattausch from Sobótka. Due to the paucity of this place the church was situated atypically at the frontage, sheer to axis of the street. The facade of the church is three-axis, with pilasters and developed cornices. On the first floor level there are statues of St. Augustine, St. Joseph and St. Ursula. The economically applied ornamentation of doors and gratings represent the rococo forms. The church interior, due to oval shape of the nave, seems to be fairly spacious in spite of small magnitude. The shallow and narrow chancel magnifies this impression. The nave is covered with flattened vault, expressly divided by the richly profiled cornices. The interior decor is, in spite of the splendour of rococo art, extremely modest. The particular attention should be focused on: pulpit, organ choir setting as well as wooden gratings closing the nuns' lodges. PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY As of the 14th century in accordance with the mention of town's register there stood the pharmacy. Inside, apart from interesting photographic exhibition, it is also possible to admire magnificent Baroque stucco work that can be found on the vault. The address is Rynek 44. HOUSE UNDER THE BULLS From 1882 on, there was a pharmacy in the townhouse "House Under The Bulls". It is decorated in the neo-renaissance style and the particular attention should be focused on the natural-size figures of bulls placed at the level of the first floor in the corners of the townhouse. The house can be found at the conjunction of Pułaskiego Street and Długa Street, by the Freedom Square (Plac Wolności).
House under the Bulls
CITY WALK 1 The Church of Peace Peace Square is surrounded by buildings from the 17th century, which is an example of spandrel beam building of those days. What is most impressive is undoubtedly the historic campanile and the lodge, where the café is situated today. The most splendid building that can be found on the square is definitely the Holy Trinity Church of Peace which, in 2001, was entered onto the UNESCO World Cultural and Heritage List. This monument is magnificent in every respect as it was erected solely out of wood, clay, sand and straw and became the symbol of the power of faith and survival. 2 St. Margaret's Square and Franciszkańska Street The surrounding area of St. Margaret's Square leads along the former battlements. The Breslau Duke Henryk IV Probus commenced building them; the record of 1285 says that he placed the Schweidnitz Jews under the obligation to build the battlements. Since then it was their major obligation, not to mention the protection of fortifications. Franciszkańska Street is situated close to the square. In the past an extremely important route to Old Market Square led here and was closed by Kapturowa Gate next to which there was situated the gate tower the highest tower in Schweidnitz's fortifications. On the left there can be seen a fragment of moat and a part of fortification which was designed to protect the walls. Nowadays there is a pub. On the corner of Franciszkańska Street there can be found the former Palace of Cistercian Abbots and is now adapted as the seat of the Municipal Library. 3 Grodzka Street Grodzka Street is one of the most representative streets in Świdnica. Townhouse no. 1 is referred to as "Under Hermes Townhouse" and which prevails over the entire street. During its erection there were treasures discovered namely coins that originated from the period of the Thirty Years' War. On the roof of the building there is a cupola with historical figure of Hermes. Nowadays there is a bank. The townhouse no. 7 once belonged to Erasmus Freund, the mayor of the town whos bas-relief is on the left-hand side of the Renaissance portal. The mayor's wife can be seen on the right-hand side. They are both presented above the life-size profiles of lions guarding the house. The portal is crowned with the crest of the Duchy of Schweidnitz and images of soldiers holding halberds. Baroque facades of townhouses no. 14 and no. 16 enchant with wealth of embellishments. Subtle wide windows, embellished balconies and gates covered with bas-reliefs present the wealth of their owners and the artistry of builders. Townhouse no. 16 is watched over by bronzed lions which performed the function of door-knockers. 4 Zamkowa Street and Kotlarska Street At Zamkowa Street a few remains of former fortifications can be found. That is the tower of the former Strzegomska Gate. With many loopholes, it formerly defended one of the oldest gates of Schweidnitz, as well as the main gateway of the town. At the beginning of 16th century, the St. Barbara's Church was raised here. The chapel connected with the tower, was changed into the arsenal two hundred years ago. The entrance to the former temple is still guarded by St. Barbara and St. Catherine. During the big time period of the town there stood a castle close to the gate. In the first half of 16th century the castle was burnt, the ruins of which were taken over by Franciszek Grimm, the chancellor. He rebuilt the castle and since then it was a castle of Renaissance character. In the period of the wars with Sweden the castle in question was almost completely devastated and the fire that broke out in 1673 ruined it completely. Until today there can only be found underground foundations and Renaissance portal incorporated into St. Anthony's Church. While heading toward Old Market Square we are passing St. Joseph's Church and the former Ursulines' nunnery from 18th century. The buildings between townhouses are situated quite atypically perpendicularly to axis of the street due to paucity of space. Townhouse no. 11 attracts the attention due to Latin maxims embellishing the faηade. 5 Old Market Square Świdnica town centre is one of the most precious, apart from Wrocław town centre, old town complexes in the Lower Silesia region. The Old Market Square with Baroque Town Hall is surrounded by richly ornamented townhouses; the corners of the Old Market Square are watched over by four monumental fountains and the impressive Holy Trinity Column. In the middle of the Market Square there is a Town Hall building, in front of which we can see a bench with the bronze monument of Maria Kunic, a famous astronomer. Townhouse no. 7 is referred to as "Townhouse under Golden Crown" and has one of the most beautiful facades in the Old Market Square. Townhouse no. 8 is referred to as "Townhouse Under Golden Countryman" and is the place where Maria Kunic used to live. In three narrow townhouses (no. 19, no. 20 and no. 21) one can find merchants' symbols from the past. On the top of the townhouse no. 21 there is a beautiful sailing ship which was certainly used to transport goods.
Church of Peace
Holy Trinity Column
Market square6 - The Cathedral Square Since 2005 the monumental church of St. Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, by virtue of Totus Tuus Poloniae Populus papal edict of John Paul II, became the Cathedral. In front of the Cathedral, on the square, there stands St. Florian's Column. The Jesuits built it in 1684 in order to express how grateful they were for saving the building from fire after the thunder hit it. The building of this huge church started in 1330 and lasted about 150 years. The chapel erected in Gothic style is impressive not only due to its spirit but also characteristic décor which represents a mixture of styles. In the west faηade, through which we will enter into its interior in a moment, there can be found four portals sculptures of the Mother of God with a Child, 12 Apostles sleeping in Olive Garden, not to mention patrons of the chapel St. Stanislaus and Wenceslaus. Above the central portal there is the largest window in the Lower Silesia region. The Cathedral has the highest tower in the Lower Silesia region. It is 5-storeyed and reaches 101.5 meters. The building of the tower was finished in 1565 but from the very beginning it was slightly unfortunate. 7 The Cathedral The main nave is 71 meters long, 10 meters broad and 25 meters high. The initial Gothic décor was destroyed by the fire that broke out in 1532. The present Baroque décor of the turn of 17th and 18th century is owed to Jesuits. In various period chapels were incorporated to the main building and there are six of them. 8 Wolności Square and Chemist's Under the Bulls At Wolności Square is a famous townhouse with two natural-size figures of bulls that embellish the building. Since 1882 there was a chemist's in this townhouse. When it was built it was the third one in the entire town. Today it is referred to as "Chemist's Under the Bulls". 9 Niepodległości Avenue Niepodległości Avenue stretches along cathedral wall behind which there can be found gardens belonging to the church. Under them there is situated the Museum of Weapon and Military which is private. The owner collects mainly: bayonets, rifles, helmets, uniforms, bullets and mortars from around the world which can often be seen in films. The earth bank, which leads along the Niepodległości Avenue, is one of the best preserved fragments of the former fortress of Schweidnitz. Near the crossing of 8 Maja Street there are three secession townhouses which are supposed to be the real pearls of architecture. The last one attracts particular attention due to wooden bay with the richly-ornamented balustrade and Prussian wall construction of the last floor. Further, on the opposite side of the street, a monumental water tower can be seen. The first tower of such type was built in Schweidnitz in 1601 in the vicinity of Ludowy Square. However, the water tower that exists till today was built in 1877 and replaced the previous one. 10 The Grunwaldzki Square Grunwaldzki Square is decorated by finely restored building of the Post Office from 1876. Under the crossroad of the main town roads, there are shelters, forming thick system of underground passages. Across the small park is the railway station.
House under Bulls
Church of Peace
Holy Trinity Column
House under Bulls
TOWN HALL TOWER IN ŚWIDNICAFor centuries the Town Hall was a symbol of magnificence and honorable traditions of Schweidnitz. First mention of the Town Hall Tower appeared in 1393, when as a result of fire of the town, the tower burnt down together with "the gold-plated roof" and "the clock which could not be found in another country." Over the next centuries, it underwent natural disasters (mainly fire) and wars, however each time, sooner or later it was rebuilt. Last reconstruction, as a result of which, the tower received its most recognizable shape, was made after the Seven Years' War (the tower was damaged by cannon fire) and finished in 1767. The builders of the tower patterned it after the cathedral 's tower reducing its size by half. Most of works were carried out by hand without the use of a crane or heavy equipment. In this form the town tower had graced Schweidnitz's Market Square for the next 200 years, up to 5th January 1967, when after striking 15:15, it slid down to the adjoining buildings. DISASTER World War II did not bring any damages to Mid-Market block and the tower remained basically unchanged. It was only as a result of negligently performed demolition works of tenement houses adjoining to the tower which weakened its structure, and finally the building began to lose its stability. On 5th January 1967 at 15.15 the bell struck a quarter for the last time and few dozen seconds later, torn alongside its vertical axis, the tower partially collapsed on the passage of the theatre, the Town Hall building and warehouses of County Union of District Cooperatives "Peasants' Self-Help." (Powiatowy Związek Gminnych Spółdzielni "Samopomoc Chłopska"). The mighty roar shook almost the whole town, and the wave of dirt and dust spread through the Market Square and adjoining streets. Fortunately, no one was killed in the catastrophe, and the only fatality was a cat belonging to one of the residents of nearby buildings. Almost immediately an investigation process was started, although the fact of scandalous incompetence in carrying out construction works at Wewnętrzna Street was attempted to be concealed. Świdnica lost its symbol and dominant for nearly 45 years. RECONSTRUCTION Measures aimed at the reconstruction of the Town Hall Tower were taken from the '70s, there were even shares printed for rebuilding the tower and donations collected in special money-boxes situated in the town. In the mid- '90s there was also prepared a reconstruction project but due to the high costs it was never implemented. Another chance to rebuild the town hall tower appeared due to the possibility to benefit from European funds for revitalization of damaged urban space. In connection with this documentary and design works were carried out very quickly and afterwards the contractor was selected and rebuilding started. The main construction works were carried out from June 2010 to June 2012. Whereas until November 2012 external and internal finishing works were carried out, because by the way, the courtyard of the Mid-Market block was completely revitalized. Finally, after 45 years, in 2012, Świdnica's old town regained its symbol. TODAY Since 17th November 2012, the Town Hall Tower again enjoys residents of Świdnica and tourists' eyes, being the symbol of splendour of the town and an excellent vantage point of the area surrounding the town (if the weather is favourable, a careful observer will perceive the tallest building in Poland - SKY TOWER in Wrocław and the highest peak of Karkonosze which is Śnieżka). The building of a new Town Hall Tower is 58 meters high and it has 10 floors. The highest point of the tower accessible to the public is an external observation deck located at the height of 38 meters. The tower is also equipped with multimedia touch panels, which not only bring the history of the object closer but also allow you to send electronic greetings from Świdnica. The object is adorned by the clock, the exterior elements of which were patterned after their original appearance from before the collapse of the tower. The new tower is surmounted with a dome and a spire with a distinctive sphere in which inhabitants of Świdnica placed reminders, including scanned photographs of different items, historical documents, coins and photos of Świdnica's residents, that will introduce present-day Świdnica to future generations. The Town Hall Tower is also a place where numerous cultural events and exhibitions take place. Admission to the tower is free of charge. Professional and friendly staff will cause that the stay on the tower goes in a pleasant atmosphere.
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